But Wait . . .

According to KVIA, the judge in the case the City filed for a declaratory judgment has postponed the case till mid-July.

Tuesday morning, a judge in Austin reset the hearing for mid-July, as several motions had been introduced by different parties in the days leading up to the hearing –and during the holiday weekend. More importantly, the judge had just been assigned that morning as per Travis County rules.

“I just don’t think we’re quite ready to go today,” she said.

It looks like the preservationists lawyered up real good.

Historical Activist Max Grossman, who seeks to protect structures and residents in Duranguito was there, represented by El Paso Attorney Frank Ainsa, Lisa Bowlin Hobbs who was General Counsel for the Texas Supreme Court and Harriet O’Neill, a former Texas Supreme Court Justice.

But they weren’t the only celebrity guest appearances.

El Paso Businessman Leonard “Tripper” Goodman III, was present. He filed documents to become an intervenor. Goodman was a vocal advocate for the 2012 Quality of Life bonds and headed the El Paso Tomorrow PAC that financed the campaign in support of the bonds. His attorney was the only one who opposed having a camera in the courtroom as he told the judge, “it would turn the court proceeding into a circus.” The judge disagreed with him and allowed KVIA’s camera to stay.

Of course Mr. Goodman didn’t want cameras in the courtroom. Hasn’t he suffered enough?

I’ve been giving Mr. Goodman a pass. He was the public face of the bond proposals back in 2012, but I figured he was just a patsy, an innocent caught in a web of deceit. But now he’s chosen to revive his role as enabler for the deceivers.

It turns out that the bond proposals were little more than fantasy. Very few of the projects proposed come in for the price they were budgeted. It almost looks like a fraud was perpetrated on the citizens of El Paso. Bait-and-switch. And instead of making the projects fit the budget, the City has chosen to increase the budget. Where do they get that money from?

Oh yeah. Now I remember.


  1. I for on am going to be filing with the court. I’ll be sending an Amicus Curiae. (Latin for “friend of the court.” Frequently, a person or group who is not a party to a lawsuit, but has a strong interest in the matter, will petition the court for permission to submit a brief in the action with the intent of influencing the court’s decision) I am not a lawyer, but I sure as hell don’t want to see that neighborhood torn down and turned into another structure that will not live up to the “promises” made by the city.

  2. Every month this case is on hold is another million dollars gone. Even if the city prevails, there’s a person fighting eviction who’ll fight in court against eminent domain of her property. That’s another 2 years or so. By the time they break ground, and legally they can’t break ground as long as the lawyers are fightng, the city will have to have another bond issue or certificate of obligation to pay to build the “multipurpose cultural arts center and arena”. The city’s appeasement of the “movers and shakers”, aka the Paso del Norte Group (now Borderplex Alliance), is appalling. For a LOT less money and less hassle, the city should have picked Cohen Stadium or the rail yards.

    1. The problem with eminent domain is that it only applies to the property owners. So long as one or two who own a big chunk of the area are willing to fight it can drag out for years but right now it sounds like all but one of property owners have agreed to sell their land. As per state law, tenants have very few rights to fight an eviction by a new property owner. Even those with a lease can be evicted if a new property owner comes in and doesn’t want to agree to the terms in the lease. That’s been one of the most frustrating things about this arena mess. Even though tenants are the ones most directly affected by the arena, they have very little standing to fight to stay because Texas state law was setup to favor the property owners.

      The problem with the railyards is that the City already made a deal with UPRR to close set number of railroad crossings and the City has been dragging their feet about closing the streets (as you can imagine it’s not popular with folks who live near those crossings).

      I’ve heard that any deal for UPRR land would involve closing the crossings that the City already agreed to close and closing quite a few more railroad crossings. UPRR straight up doesn’t care about the money for the land, they want as many crossings closed as possible so that they can run their trains through town much faster (which is where they would make the real money).

  3. Chuco Geek, the real problem with the rail yards were the lies told by the City Attorney. UPRR said they’d never been contacted AND the City Attorney said the city would have had to clean the rail yard up. False because environmental cleanup is on the present property owner and can’t be transferred; the area has to be cleaned before it’s sold. We don’t know what UPRR wants because the city never contacted them. The city is already screwing up by not closing the site agreed on. And no, speeding up the passage through El Paso doesn’t help the railroad make money, it’s a marginal difference because many of them have to stop anyway, limited rail line use is the problem. Think of I-10 from Sunland Park to the university, THAT is what rail lines are like. Speed is not a factor. Cohen Stadium would have been the ideal location, except for the Borderland Alliance and their need to make a quick buck off their downtown holdings. This group of businessmen seem to be very short sighted in what’s good for the community.

    1. Have you ever actually dealt with UPRR? They are a huge organization that has thousands of people working in countless roles. It is quite possible that the City spoke to someone at UPRR who told them what UPRR wanted in exchange for selling land for the arena (or possibly for another project) and some time later media folks asked someone else at UPRR about it and those folks knew nothing about it. That’s very much like what happened with the ballpark and it was almost just dumb luck that the City finally managed to talk to the right people at UPRR when that was being negotiated. I know for a fact though that UPRR wants as many crossings closed as possible (that’s what the “Quiet Zone” projects are really all about).

      I’m not sure where you are getting your information but increasing speed limits on train tracks will definitely help the railroad make more money. The faster they can get freight and passengers from point A to point B the more trips they can make with their trains and the more money they make in the long run. Unlike I-10 railroads normally have 100% control over the trains on their tracks and they can plan to a scary level of accuracy. The faster you can move trains through a bottleneck then the less of a bottleneck it becomes.

      Just look up the regulations for crossings and what trains need to do when they have quad gates or no crossings vs when they have crossings. Now imagine stretches of town like Manhattan Heights or UMC where you have crossings every few feet. UPRR would love to shut down all the at grade crossings and make everyone cross over or under their tracks. It would make a huge difference to them. Speed is very much a factor for trains.

      As far as Cohen goes I actually don’t disagree that as a facility it makes a lot of sense to use that for an Arena. However, I am not sure it makes sense because of it’s location. I remember how it just sort of faded away over time. I’m not sure exactly why that happened but I’d be wary of spending $180M to build something there… then again I’d rather they put the arena on hold and focused on other, more important projects before committing the money to an arena of dubious necessity.

      Leaving aside the pros and cons of building the arena at Cohen, I also understand the point that the City is making that “whoops we always meant downtown but we accidentally left it off on the ballot.” I think that’s a crappy explanation but I can understand how they might be trying to make it work. Hell all the quality of life nonsense was BS and I think most of the items were worded in such a way as to try to maximize the number of yes votes regardless of what they were actually wanting to build. I mean why do we need TWO state of the art multi-million dollar swimming pools? Why do we need to spend millions of dollars on a Hispanic cultural center in downtown? Why do we need a $180M arena?

      Unfortunately El Pasoans who vote tend to vote for what they want and for who promises to give them what they want and they forget about what we all need. I mean if you think about it it’s kind of mind blowing that we didn’t vote for more money to improve streets and sidewalks but we voted for all sorts of shiny new fun things while some roads are practically falling apart and we don’t have any sort of actual plan for fixing them. As folks mentioned at City Council this week, the City has no plan for how to address ADA issues and they’ve had TWENTY-FIVE+ years to really work on that.

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